Back Forty, bloggy stuff, political activism

A little talk about the past and present

I’ve distracted myself from the distress of the U.S. Election by spending a lot of time updating my blog from years ago – going through each post quickly to find photos that are hosted on Flickr, downloading them, and uploading them to WordPress and changing the link. This is going to work. I worried that I might not have enough room for all my photos on WordPress, so I began with the big travel blog posts and then started at the beginning.

This week has been 2007-2008, a particularly emotionally volatile time in my life. I was severely depressed in 2007, lost several friends, a cat that I handfed as a feral baby, Squirt, and his mother and sister, Mama Kitty and Miss Peanut. My husband’s work situation was awful. And I managed to squeak out finishing my M.A. in Liberal Studies in the midst of it. There are clues to my misery in the posts that I transferred over from when I hosted this blog on GoDaddy, but I noticed that I left out dozens of posts that I wrote. They are gone forever now. I can’t say that I am sorry that I made that choice, but I am glad that I left the clues.

I am amazed at the photos of the Back Forty. WOW. It was beautiful. I worked SO HARD on it. There was a lot of food produced, pre-groundhog days. I mean, LOOK>

Also, my God, the energy I had! I complained a lot about the same old physical stuff, but I got shit done. I was involved in the community. I finished a degree and started back on the Studio Art BA degree that I had abandoned in the late 80s.

2008 was also an election year and I suspect that I left out a lot of political posts as well. I was happy that Obama won, then disappointed in his food policy, which was my big focus at the time. I would leave the Democratic Party soon after.

What a difference 12 years later when Obama seems like a dream President, witty and intelligent. I have been a Bernie girl since long before he ran for President in 2016, but I have come to believe that this country needs a centrist president. My personal political opinions skew much farther left, but I am a realist above all else. We can’t waste time trying for the impossible when we can at least get the direction pointed away from total disaster.

I have hope for getting the pandemic under control and progress on reducing the effects of climate change, although, again, I am a realist. That point tipped several years ago. There is no reverse.

So yes, I am happy about Biden and Harris, and I hope that we get to Inauguration Day without a civil war and white domestic terrorism unleashed. I am not yet, nor likely to be, filled with glee. My main concern, getting an insane criminal out of the White House, seems likely to be accomplished. That is enough for right now.

Coronavirus Chronicles, political activism

Black Lives Matter

So much to say, and no adequate words to say it.

I keep putting off posting here, because it feels trivial to post my everyday life events in the scope of what is happening in my country and the world today. As a white middle class person, I have learned a lot about racism and listening, but it is confusing to hear the contradictory statements about giving space for African American voices but that white silence is consent. I’ve been trying to walk that thin line.

If it wasn’t for this damn virus, believe me, my husband and I would be at the protests. I wish that I was in DC right now. I feel bad about not participating. I would feel worse if I caught this virus and spread it further. In other words, I feel like shit. Everything is infuriating and terrifying and guilt-inducing and I feel like a turtle flipped on its back. Overwhelmed and helpless, and not at all sure if I can find a way back on my feet.

When it comes down to the choice, I think that the protests are doing fine without us, but an exponential rate of viral infection and the fact that between the two of us we check all the boxes for severe consequences if we catch it makes our decision clear. I’ve been obsessed with looking at the footage and tired of hearing sirens and fireworks (was that a gun shot?) within walking distance of my house. As a senior white woman in a safe middle class neighborhood I never have to worry about being abused by police. All of my police interactions have been good ones. Even the one in which I argued with a patrolman, even the one in which I was arrested, I was treated with respect. The only beefs I have ever had with police were about over-zealous parking enforcement. I am privileged and I know it.

I worry much more about the right-wing domestic terrorists and Boogaloos instigating and accelerating violence, and this city has seen murder from the KKK and Nazis before. It is also the home of the Greensboro Sit-Ins, a proud civil rights event in our history. The Woolworth’s building now houses the International Civil Rights Center and Museum, and given that one of its windows was broken in the riots the other night, I doubt that it was civil rights protesters who did the damage. This city has a very complicated civil rights heritage.

Anyway, my mental health is damaged enough that I don’t think that I need to say anything more except that All Lives won’t Matter until Black Lives Matter. That is what “All” means.

Back to the usual programming later.

fiber art, political activism, Rebel stitching, Tiny Pricks Project

Thanksgiving Week and Tiny Pricks


Here we are on Thanksgiving week, ready to celebrate the only holiday I participate in other than Festivus. And the big news is that Sandy and I will be spending it at Lake Waccamaw at my cousin’s house, my heart space, the house that I mourned for the past year because nobody who saw the flood damage from Hurricane Florence thought that my cousin’s wife would spend the money and make the huge effort to save it. But she did! It won’t be the same – all new furniture and appliances since the antiques were ruined. I’ll know more when I get there.

And my sister and brother-in-law finally moved out of the rental house and back to their house on the shore down the road.

For the past month, I mainly concentrated on the Tiny Pricks Project, but I have done some other fun art things. My most recent Tiny Pricks project is a large tea towel so it is taking a while. I should get it done tonight, hopefully! Scuppernong Books has already started pinning up our handkerchiefs, doilies, and crafty items spotlighting the unmatched wise words of our very, very brilliant Dear Leader, and we will add a few more before we send them all to Diana Weymar and the big Tiny Pricks Project. This has been very good for me: good for my stress level, my sense of humor, and connection with other people. I made new friends, which is not easy for me. You can see the Greensboro chapter’s projects on Instagram. I have finished three and three of the four are related to hurricane quotes.

I couldn’t resist doing one of his nonsense “word salads” and this is a bit hard to read, so I’ve typed it below the photo.

I’m going to maybe and I’m looking at it very seriously. We’re doing some other things that you probably noticed like some of the very important things that we’re doing now. But we’re looking at it very seriously because you can’t do that.

Wow, that’s a very serious amount of nothing said at all!

Speaking of nothing, don’t forget to do any shopping early this week so you can celebrate “Buy Nothing Day” on Friday. So there IS a third holiday that I participate in.

I think that I’ll put the other stuff in another post.

fiber art, Greensboro North Carolina, political activism, Rebel stitching, Tiny Pricks Project

Tiny Pricks Project Greensboro

A while back several news articles began circulating on Facebook that got a lot of attention from me and my fiber artist friends. They were about Diana Weymar, an artist who created The Tiny Pricks Project, who says this about how it began on her website:

On Jan. 8th, 2018 I stitched ‘I am a very stable genius’ into a piece of my grandmother’s abandoned needlework from the 1960s. When I posted it on Instagram, the response was immediate and overwhelmingly positive. Assuming he would become more presidential over time, with only the occasional ridiculous tweet, I decided to stitch one Trump quote a week. However, it quickly became a daily practice, as I tried to keep up with the outpouring of “unpresidential” text. Friends asked if I would host workshops so that they could join the project. Tiny Pricks Project has since become the largest textile Trump protest EVER with over 1100 Tiny Pricks and hundreds of participants globally. The series will go strong until Trump is out of office. The goal is to create 2020 Tiny Pricks by 2020!

One of my friends tagged a half dozen of us to see if we wanted to participate, and thus the Greensboro chapter of the Tiny Pricks Project began. We meet on Monday and Wednesday nights in a couple of different places to stitch the outrageous and surreal words of the man currently occupying the Oval Office on tea towels, doilies, and handkerchiefs that we pick up in various thrift/antique stores. One of us doesn’t stitch but has drawn and written designs for stitchers to pick up and work on. We started out at a local brewery but as fall progressed the lighting became too dim, so we now meet at our favorite local bookstore, Scuppernong Books, in downtown Greensboro on Mondays, and just moved our Wednesday night meeting to Leveneleven Brewing, a small brewpub across from the Greensboro Coliseum on Coliseum Boulevard.

We plan to do this for at least the next six weeks, after which we will have a small show of our work at Scuppernong before sending them to Diana Weymar for her project. You don’t have to come to the meetings to participate.

Last night we agreed that this project has been so therapeutic and fun that we will likely continue meeting as a group after the show.

Here are a few of the finished pieces. The top one is mine. If you are interested, please follow the Tiny Pricks Project Greensboro Instagram page.

coffee pot posts, depression/anxiety, fiber art, political activism, Quilting, Reading, Slow cloth, Upcycling

Sunday morning coffee pot post

Election Day has come and gone with results slightly better than I expected, so my PTSD from 2016 is somewhat abated. I didn’t have high expectations for North Carolina because we are so atrociously gerrymandered it is ridiculous. They even admit it. And they get away with it even though it keeps getting struck down. They just submit another that is slightly less egregious and then howl that it is too close to primary or election day to fix it.

I propose that we draw the maps to give a partisan advantage to 10 Republicans and three Democrats because I do not believe it’s possible to draw a map with eleven Republicans and two Democrats.” ~ North Carolina GOP state representative David Lewis, News and Observer, June 25, 2018

I try not to get too political here on the blog because I use my personal Facebook page for that. But as a left wing independent I am tired of having no representation in the U.S. Congress. I live in a very blue county that has been divided into pieces and combined with very red counties, so that my “representative” is an extreme right wing gun store owner. And I’m tired of the two parties playing tit-for-tat.

Sandy and I went to the rally to “protect Mueller” in downtown Greensboro on Thursday evening, but by the time we could get there it was winding down. I snagged a “Country Over Party” sign and put it in the front window of the house.

Okay, moving on. How about this sewing machine? It belonged to my mother and she sewed many of our clothes on it. She was an accomplished seamstress and also made some quilted patchwork, although her main artistic pursuit was watercolor.

It also bears the last lingering mark of my first large artistic installation. At the age of three, I rose before everyone else, gleefully grabbed a black felt tip marker from the table where my mother was working on a project, and drew a line around the entire inside of our house. The line went over walls, furniture, and curtains. I started early, folks.

Anyway, I finally got frustrated enough with the Brother’s tension problems that I moved around some stuff and released Old Faithful into the world again. It doesn’t like the quilted panels, and the stitch lever won’t go lower than 9, but the tension is so much better and it is all mechanical so I could actually get it fixed more easily and manually stitch with it if necessary. I have the manual and all the parts and brushes and oil so I need to get that out and study it. I was pleased that I could figure out how to thread it and wind a bobbin after all these years. It does just fine with sewing two normal pieces of fabric together, and that’s all I need.

With the quilted panels, at this point I’m just trying to get the layers basted together on the machine. This means that the quilting looks like a terrible mess, but honestly, this is a t-shirt quilt. I’m planning to cuddle up in it, not hang it in a show. There is a lot of freedom in that. And I can just about guarantee that I won’t be making another one.

Sewing is good therapy for me, and I wish I could do more hand sewing, but I’ve pretty much accepted that isn’t an option for very long. My hand goes numb after about five minutes. I’ll stitch on this quilt once it is together and take my time with it.

I’m still seeing an actual therapist, and it seems to be helping. She is very high on anti-inflammation, and so I have started taking fish oil again. Can’t hurt, I certainly have plenty of inflammation. Also working on getting my mind on a more positive outlook. I still just want to play games and sleep and read at the end of the day, and I sleep a lot on the weekend. She calls it hypersomnia. It is a hell of a lot better than insomnia, but I’d like to find a balance. I run out of spoons early in the day.

Positive developments: working on the t-shirt quilt and I got my flu shot. I went to the dentist and my teeth are fine. Now I need to go to the doctor to get my blood panel and see if there is something else responsible for my constant fatigue. I drove to Raleigh two weeks ago and got together with members of Triangle Book Arts. I haven’t managed to get to Gate City Yarns for their stitch and bitch night because Friday nights, oof. That’s a tough one for me even though it is close by. I had brunch with some friends at Lucky 32 last Sunday and that was good. I often feel quite lonely for friends, especially now that the Fabulous Zha K has fled North Carolina, and good for her, I have to say. I plan to do so at age 62, not even five years away. We might even end up in the same state again. However, much of my loneliness is chosen. I feel a strong urge to be alone most of the time. People exhaust me, even people I love.

I have a stack of books that was turning out to be quite depressing. So Little Bee went back into the stack and I’m reading The Risk Pool by Richard Russo. I just finished The Probable Future by Alice Hoffman, Hotel Du Lac by Anita Brookner and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. I miss my Poldark saga!

The electrician did a site visit and we have rolled the electrical work needed into the solar panel financing. Hopefully by this time next year we will get most of, if not all of, our electricity from the sun and just pay Duke Energy the meter fee. It’s kind of crazy since I am now fixated on leaving North Carolina, but it is a good investment for the house and my soul.

Now planning a trip to northern New Mexico in May with the Sandman, where we could possibly be joined by my cousin and her husband. We’ll scope it out to see if that might be a good place for retirement for us. I love planning trips!

art, North Carolina, political activism, tapestry, Tapestry Diary 2018

Women’s Rally on Raleigh, etc.

Yesterday’s protest rally was a family affair: husband Sandy, sister Lisa, me, brother-in-law Tim.

My favorite sign was the Black Mirror sign, although I like that the sign on the left covers most of the bases:

I also delivered my book to Artspace where the Triangle Book Arts exhibition will be installed. Opening reception is Friday, Feb. 2 evening. I haven’t decided if I am going or not. I would like to. I didn’t have much time to spend there, but I loved the mixed media show by Megan Bostic and Davis Choun currently in the front gallery.

WATER IS LIFE! And so are seeds and worms…

Birds cluster around the areas where the snow has melted.

Tapestry diary completed for the week. (My weeks begin on Monday in this diary.)


Now going for a massage to get my poor back and hips in shape, then a bit of grocery shopping and studio time at the “other” studio.

D.C., DC, National Parks and Monuments, political activism

People’s Climate March, Washington D.C., April 29, 2017

Playing a bit of catch-up here before starting my next big photo essay on our trip to Ireland and the United Kingdom. With everything going on, I never posted about going to the People’s Climate March in DC on April 29, so here goes before I forget it. The photos are in no particular order.

It was a day of record-breaking heat for that day in Washington, D.C. Unfortunate for us heat-haters, but appropriate for the theme of the march. I got on Amtrak’s Crescent train from Greensboro in the wee hours of the morning, because the plan was to go there and back with no stop overnight. It was the cheapest, most painless way to go for just one person. It also seemed appropriate to take public transit.

Part of the plan was to sleep on the way there, but the train was meat-locker cold. The snack bar sold blankets. I was trying to travel light since I had to carry everything I brought, and I was damned if I was going to give in to what seemed to be a way to exploit passengers for extra money. So I read in the cafe car and had breakfast in the diner car, which wasn’t bad and was enough to get me through the rest of the day on granola bars.


I was surprised that there were not more people going to the march on the train. As we got closer, more people got on with signs, but I found that a lot of people weren’t even aware that a big march was happening in DC. There were exceptions, such as the couple who traveled all the way from Alabama and back the same day on the Crescent.

A friend was supposed to meet me there but I had not heard from him since his original proposal that we march together, so I texted him that it was okay and I didn’t mind being alone. As if I could be alone in that huge mass of people! I could have marched with any group, but I was looking for my local chapter of the Sierra Club, since one of my goals is to reconnect with them this year. I never found them, but once I gave up looking for them, I realized that I was happier doing this on my own. I could stop and rest, take photos, wander away, change direction – I was absolutely free!

The march was divided into groups such as spiritual leaders, indigenous peoples, educators, health workers, and environmentalists. I fell in somewhere in the middle with the environmentalists behind one of the North Carolina groups that collaborated with the Paperhand Puppets. When I wandered around looking for my group (who chartered a bus), I found people had come from all over the country. It was uplifting and suddenly I was happy that I made the effort to be there. There were marchers much older and younger than me, and marchers in wheelchairs and using canes.

Somewhere along the way I bought a $3 bottle of cold water, took a couple of sips, and then poured the whole thing over my head and upper body. I felt much better after that. However, I didn’t march all the way to the White House. When I saw marchers sitting under the cool shade trees on the Ellipse, I joined them.

Deciding that I had done about as much as I physically could, I walked back by the Washington Monument and donated my sign to be used in a giant display spelling “Climate Jobs and Justice” on the lawn there. I heard that Twitler flew over it that afternoon. I doubt he looked at it.

The above photo was taken from the People’s Climate Movement Facebook page.

I stopped at the National Museum of the American Indian for a beer and a macaroon – mainly to rest my feet before walking on to Union Station to catch the train back. It’s my favorite Smithsonian museum.

#resist

cloth weaving, critters, political activism, Slow cloth, Upcycling, weaving

Disengaged

I guess it was inevitable that I would get burned out on outrage. I’m still keeping up with news until I get my mojo back though. Another bad cold did not help matters, but I got over this one fairly quickly. The next major political action I intend to take is the People’s Climate Mobilization in D.C. on April 29, 2017. I’m taking Amtrak up there early in the morning and a friend will meet me there, then I’m coming back on Amtrak late that afternoon. No overnight stay this time.


Work is busy, and a lot seems to be going on at high levels behind the scenes, which is disturbing for us who actually implement the policies. I’m grateful for my job, and I love my work. I hope that I will be able to keep it until I am at least 60 years old, when I will be able to receive most of my state pension if I leave the university. I would like to retire there, but not if I am not in the same department, which is one of the best places to work in the university. Unfortunately a lot depends on state politics here.

Craving studio time. Weekends are the only time I’ve made it over here so far this year. Right now I am weaving together more subtle checkerboard squares to mount shirt pockets on, for the blanket. Also I’m sewing random bits together to make new cloth, with no real plan on how to use them. Maybe they will go on the back of the blanket. It is curious that my passion has moved to sewing, considering the mental blocks I had to overcome. I wish very much that I could sew by hand, but at some point I accepted that my tendinitis is just not going to allow it except in very small amounts.

My problem is definitely not artist’s block now. It is time management and energy flow. I have a billion ideas. I want to get back to making paper and books again. And plant my garden. And plant a garden here at the studio house. Too many things!!!

The weather was beautiful week before last and I moved the Shannock loom out to the front porch for one day. Looking forward to weaving on the porch more often now that I have it screened with a ceiling fan and electricity. Susanne, Marianne, and I enjoyed the porch at the studio house too.

Registration for Focus on Book Arts opens tomorrow morning at 8 a.m. PST. Susanne and I definitely plan to go, and I think that Judy will come for part of it. This will be our third time going to this conference at Pacific University in Forest Grove. We’ll stay on campus because neither of us will have a lot of spare cash since we both are going to Europe on separate trips this spring. I have a voucher from Southwest from volunteering to give up my seat last September that will pay for my airfare or I wouldn’t even be able to consider it. The dilemma is what class(es) to take during the first three days? I know that I want Leighanna Light’s class on the weekend. I had thought to take a more technical class on leather binding for the first three days, but my heart says no. I thought about Jill Berry’s class, but I’d like to take at least one class from someone I haven’t studied (or played, depending on how you look at it!) with before. Now I’m thinking about the Chinese thread book class. That seems interesting.

Now, for your amusement, this is Diego versus the rug. Trust me, it went on much, much longer than these few seconds.

I guess the rug won this round.

art, coffee pot posts, fiber art, political activism, Quilting, Slow cloth

Weekend Update

Well, it’s been a week, eh?

I can’t say yet that I am responding in a healthy way to the stress and horror of the real world, but I feel rested this weekend, finally. I did actually cook dinner and do laundry on Thursday night. I spent this morning drinking coffee at the house, grocery shopping at Deep Roots, and now I’m back at the studio for the first time since Jan. 16. So far, so good.

Other than going to the Women’s March, part of my problem is that I started having spells of vertigo on Jan. 16, so I couldn’t drive and since they happened later in the day/evening I couldn’t get much done at night. The doctor couldn’t find anything wrong so he figured that it was an inner ear problem from all that head congestion I’ve had in the past 6-7 weeks. The last spell I had was on Sunday, and it was mild, so I think that I’m past it. I sure hope so. I was starting to feel like Louise II from Arrested Development.

To catch up…I decided that while my filler strips for the t-shirt quilt were quite beautiful, they just weren’t right for it. I needed to honor the t-shirt spirit of the piece. So despite what the online teacher said, I’m going to use the rest of the t-shirts to fill in the spaces. And if it screws it up, so be it. It was getting too precious and this is a learning piece for me. Plus I found an old cotton knit hippie piecework jacket that I had squirreled away that will be perfect.

Although I will use these remnants and fat quarters and charm squares of new cotton fabric and enjoy playing with them, there is a comfort for me in re-using old clothes. I want to continue to focus on that. I’ve started digging out Sandy’s old khaki pants to use to join the cloth woven shirt panels.

I noticed that I really liked the pattern of the wrinkles in this piece of cloth so I decided to do a wabi-sabi thing and call it “anti-ironing.”


When it starts getting warmer, I will move my tapestry loom out onto my front porch and weave again. That will feel good.

Politics wise, I plan to march at the 11th Annual Moral March in Raleigh on February 11 (mental and physical health permitting) and I’ve bought a train ticket to go to the People’s Climate March in Washington, D.C. on April 29. I am encouraged by the people rising up. #RESIST

Here is a link to an article that really helped me and others this week: How to #StayOutraged Without Losing Your Mind. I am choosing to focus on environmental issues and civil rights, although I know it is all important and interconnected. Hopefully this tactic will help me stay engaged without being overwhelmed, but I realize that I will have to take mental health breaks. As my favorite therapist Stuart Smalley says, “And that’s okay.”

D.C., political activism

Women’s March on Washington

A selection of photos from the Women’s March on Washington, D.C.

^^^Making the posters the night before.

^^^Waiting to get on the Metro in Alexandria. It ended up being pretty awful. We were crushed after the second or third stop and got off the train at a station where they were managing the crowds better. The way back was better.

^^^Trying to get out of the Metro at L’Enfant Plaza.


^^^Where we ended up before we crossed Independence Ave., found a bathroom in the Freer-Sackler Gallery, then joined the march on the other side of it. There were people everywhere and we couldn’t see past the people around us and so everyone just moved toward the White House.


^^^My favorite sign (so many to choose from!) was “Free Tic-Tacs if You Can Define Consent.”

We took Carty to the Air and Space Museum for an hour then had a much better Metro experience on the way back.

^^^After we checked out of the hotel on Sunday we rode the Metro back and went to the Museum of the American Indian and the Freer-Sackler Gallery to see the “Art of the Qur’an” exhibit. Beautiful manuscripts! I know manuscripts and they were the BEST manuscripts! One of them was HUGE!

^^^Some people came back out and left their signs on Sunday.